In 2009, Tony Gonzalez was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round draft pick. At that point in his career, Gonzalez was easily the premiere tight-end in the NFL, but he had yet to experience a play-off run. Thus explains his openness to being traded to the Atlanta Falcons, a team that was on their way up with Rookie of the Year quarterback Matt Ryan and an explosive offense. In 2012, Gonzalez won the first playoff game of his career, before eventually losing in the NFC Conference Championship to the San Francisco 49ers. While Gonzalez had previously announced his intention to retire after the 2012 season, his playoff run with the Falcons and his drive to win a Super Bowl ring prompted him to return to the field in 2013.
However, after Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Gonzalez's shot at a Super Bowl ring has essentially been eliminated: This puts us way behind the eight ball as far as the playoffs are concerned. I think our more immediate concern is winning a game against a good team. It was good that we got the win (against Tampa Bay) last week, but the Buccaneers haven’t even won a game this year," stated Gonzalez right before boarding the team bus.
The Atlanta Falcons are currently 2-5 and in 3rd place in the NFC South, boasting the 4th worst NFC record overall. With the loss of star wide-receiver Julio Jones, things don't look good for the Falcons. Despite the lack of success this season, Gonzalez had been adamant about sticking it out with the Falcons: "I would never go and ask [the Falcons] for a trade. And if that's something that they wanted to do to help their franchise, that's up to them. But it wouldn't be coming from me. Like I said, I came back to play with these guys. I have great relationships with these guys. ... These guys are friends that I'll call for the rest of my life. Like I said, I'm not going to jump ship. I'm not saying, 'Things are bad around here, so I'm out of here.'"
Following Sunday's trouncing at the hands of the then 3-4 Cardinals and the rampant rumors surrounding his impending trade, however, Gonzalez's tune changed a bit: "I totally understand it. Everybody out there needs to understand that I'm not naive to it. I see it, too. This is the last [nine] weeks of my career. And right now, things are looking ... you never know. But, like I said, I love my guys on this team too much to go ask for a trade. It would be something that would come from them where they said, 'Hey, it makes sense because we could get something good for you and send you to a team that's a contender.' So I understand the thought process behind that."
While Gonzalez may state that he would not approach the organization and ask for a trade, it certainly sounds as if there was a subliminal message in his comments Monday afternoon - Hey. Listen up, Falcons. I came back to win a Super Bowl with you all, but that obviously isn't happening this season. Trade me to someone who has a better shot, and get another good player in return. You know I'm retiring after this year and won't be around anymore. Might as well get some use out of me. (Or something like that. You get the gist.)
Despite Gonzalez's openness to "listen" to any potential trade discussions, the Falcons have been rather demonstrative in their refusal to trade him: "That's preposterous that Tony would be traded,'' Falcons's head coach Mike Smith told ESPN.com. In a Monday press-conference, Smith supported his statement even further by stating that there had been "No consideration of that at all,” concerning the trade of Tony Gonzalez. Even ESPN reporter, Adam Schefter, has reported that the Falcons will not be trading Gonzalez:
So why the reluctance to trade Gonzalez? He has made it clear that he will be retiring after this season. While that decision will open up some salary-cap room, it does little in terms of helping the Falcons fill in some missing pieces. Why not send Gonzalez back to Kansas City, where he began his career, to helped the league's only undefeated team cement a Super Bowl run? It seems as if the Falcons are so full of pride that they are not willing to admit defeat when it is staring them in the face. The Falcons organization should do the honorable thing and trade the future Hall of Famer to a Super Bowl contender. Honestly, who doesn't want to see the Kansas City Chiefs be successful for once?
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